Houston Dynamo

360 View: Why Matchday 10 could go off the rails | MLSSoccer.com

Hello there, beautiful people! Welcome to 360 View with yours truly, Kevin Egan.

Before we turn to Matchday 10 – and we have an incredible slate of games ahead – I want to shout out Giovanni Savarese. It’s been an absolute joy to have him join us on #MLS360, sharing his passion and knowledge about the league. Truly, what a treat.

We have Sacha Kljestan with his eye for the creative player, Bradley Wright-Phillips studying strikers and their strengths, Kaylyn Kyle looking at breakdowns and where teams can be stronger defensively… and now Gio hopping on. His insights about younger players and what makes a team click, it’s top-class and complements the whole group.

Yes, Gio could still coach in this league and might have aspirations to return to the sidelines one day. But he's gone all-in on TV; his work screams passion and enthusiasm. I have a huge respect for what he brings.

Now, I think we might be in for the most exciting MLS 360 weekend ever. It’s not quite Rivalry Week, but some of these games could really go off the rails with goals, high stakes and star power. We hope you join us Saturday at 7:30 pm ET!

Seattle Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

  • WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
  • WHEN: Saturday, 10:30 pm ET

Let’s start at Lumen Field, where the Seattle Sounders host the Vancouver Whitecaps for a Cascadia Cup clash.

Who would have thought at this stage of the season that Vancouver (13) would have over double the points as Seattle (6)? It's wild to think about and highlights how unpredictable MLS is. We were all talking about Seattle as a Supporters' Shield candidate and it’s instead Vancouver making us ask how high their ceiling is.

Now, Seattle aren’t down and out. We’re starting to see their team fully come together – João Paulo is back on the field, Léo Chú is available, Albert Rusnák's had a run of games. Everything is starting to fall into place except the results. Could we see them turn a corner and re-enter the conversation for the top of the West?

Vancouver won’t make that so easy; they make no apologies for who they are and are totally comfortable in their own skin. Vanni Sartini exudes confidence from the touchline and they have a way of playing that’s so beautiful to watch. Bradley and I will sit there and say they don't get the credit they deserve if you truly watch them play. They're such a united group and I think they'll go to Seattle and not care who they're playing against, play their style and it'll really cause Seattle problems.

Here’s where I net out: Seattle at home, they must take the game to Vancouver. It’s an electric crowd and you need to start picking up points – just one victory on the year isn’t good enough.

Sporting Kansas City vs. St. Louis CITY SC

  • WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
  • WHEN: Saturday, 8:30 pm ET

This one almost writes itself, right?

For new fans and those who might need a reminder: St. Louis were best in the West last year, showing up Sporting KC as the new kids on the (Midwest) block. While St. Louis were smashing expansion-club records, Sporting KC were limping badly to no wins in their first 10 games. Peter Vermes’ team eventually rallied, got a playoff reunion with their new neighbors and then St. Louis laid an absolute egg when it mattered most. Boy, talk about adding fuel to the fire.

Now, neither team has met their full potential in 2024 – and they face pressure in different ways. Sporting KC have only picked up five points in five home matches this year, dropping points at an alarming rate. It’s also clear as day they need a No. 10. Alan Pulido’s not it in that role, but it sounds like any move won’t arrive until the summer window.

Then in St. Louis, they similarly would benefit from a high-end signing or two. But in the meantime, the main question surrounds Sam Adeniran. They need him to be the Sam Adeniran we know and love. For whatever reason, he's not training with the group right now. Layer in transferring out Niko Gioacchini this winter, João Klauss not fully firing and now having Adeniran off to the side, that's a major concern.

Toss in all the usual rivalry flames and we’re in for a special game at Children’s Mercy Park.

Inter Miami CF vs. Nashville SC

  • WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
  • WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

Okay, this one’s not a true rivalry in the traditional sense. But people may be quick to forget the histories of Inter Miami and Nashville SC are closely intertwined.

These clubs both came into MLS in 2020 and approached their entrance to the league in very different ways. Nashville’s marquee payer was Walker Zimmerman and they built a foundation, bringing in a captain to play for a certain manager. Inter Miami’s face became Gonzalo Higuaín, the Argentine striker who played for so many top clubs in Europe. Music City and Vice City, worlds apart!

While these clubs have very different identities, both have added so much to the league in their short histories. Both have created stars and done it in different ways, too. Now, you have another chapter in an under-the-radar rivalry that features two premier 10s – Hany Mukhtar for Nashville and Lionel Messi for Miami (yes, he’s in his own stratosphere).

Here’s what I’m wondering: What have Gary Smith and Nashville learned from suffering narrow losses to Messi’s Miami in Concacaf Champions Cup and Leagues Cup over the last year? There’s no simple formula to stop Messi – teams have been wondering how to do that for two decades. But you can't switch off, have to take opportunities when they come, and must control your emotions. If you leave any opening, Miami will punish you. On the other end, it’s seeing more of the Hany we know and love. So much of this club’s fortunes are intertwined with the German star.

Houston Dynamo FC vs. Austin FC

  • WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
  • WHEN: Saturday, 8:30 pm ET

Where my mind goes is what Matt Doyle recently wrote about (and then it was discussed on This is MLS): If there's a Coach of the Year award right now, it probably goes to Houston’s Ben Olsen. Just think about the number of teams that have been decimated by injury in the early going – Seattle, Dallas, Miami, Toronto. It’s quite stark. Olsen has every reason to have those excuses, yet his team is getting results without Héctor Herrera, Nelson Quiñones and Sebas Ferreira. They've still produced and are third in the West.

Austin show spirit, they don't stop, their players show up no matter what for this club. And yet I think there's pressure on Josh Wolff to get results, especially when your rival team is soaring with four wins in their last five games. It can’t just be Sebastián Driussi magic saving the day.

LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes

  • WATCH: Apple TV - Free; FS1, FOX Deportes
  • WHEN: Sunday - 8:15 pm ET

A Cali Clasico! And we can keep this one really simple.

LA Galaxy: It's on you, you're at home, you should be easily winning. You don't want to fumble this. Back up all the hype about the new wingers, Dejan Joveljic vying for the Golden Boot, Riqui Puig as a premiere 10. Plus, with Vancovuer away at Seattle, you can really take the top spot and create some distance in the West.

San Jose: They’ve been unlucky at times, but they also have themselves to blame. When the Quakes take a lead, their mindset can completely shift from what they’re doing well to dropping deep. You want them to continue what they're doing well rather than showing a level of insecurity.

All that said, maybe Cristian Espinoza can hit LA at their own game. Can San Jose defend deep and make it difficult to be broken down, then you counter? This could be their season catalyst.

LAFC vs. New York Red Bulls

  • WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
  • WHEN: Saturday - 10:30 pm ET

The best for last! This is going to be the game of the weekend, in my mind. This is the blockbuster, the headline act. And that says a lot when you've got all these rivalries, Messi playing at home, FC Cincinnati at Atlanta United and more.

The Red Bulls, Sacha was saying they're going to have more of the ball at LAFC – which is wild to think. But it speaks to how much their side has evolved under Sandro Schwarz. They're much more willing to play and they have the players to play.

If the Red Bulls get the win, going to the stadium where LAFC won MLS Cup 2022, it's the biggest statement by them yet. They very well might win the Supporters' Shield this year – and can show why in this game.

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